ISIS took over most of Northern Iraq in 2014, resulting in tens of thousands of refugees to flee eastward into Iraqi Kurdistan. As villages on Iraq’s Nineveh Plain are liberated, the Christians who lived there have returned. Many have been living in temporary housing unfit for the winter season, thus relying upon aid groups for their basic needs, only to find destruction and betrayal upon their return.

Sister Diana had taught at St. Ephrem Seminary in Bakhdida, Iraq before ISIS invaded. The destruction, as reported by CNA, was “beyond imagination.” Christians who had been living in temporary shelters headed back home with joyful hearts, Sister Diana said.  They were heartbroken to discover the damage and hatred of ISIS everywhere, in the destruction of their homes and churches. Graffiti on the walls of churches have threats like “we’re going to break your crosses” and “you have no place with us.” People have found that even their neighbours have betrayed them. They discovered so many of their documents and belongings at their places.

“So many families are leaving Iraq,” Fr. Benham Benoka told CNA, president of the Humanitarian Nineveh Relief Organization which Sister Diana works with. He says it is a race against time to rebuild their homes before everyone chooses to leave Iraq. Many residents still face the struggle of rebuilding their homes and villages, reconciling with their neighbours, and establishing security. The situation is even worse for those families who have left and are currently stranded in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan.

 Sources: CNA News and EWTN news


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